Creative Space with Jennifer Logue

Grammy Winner Steve Addabbo On Sitting Down and Getting It Done

November 06, 2022 Jennifer Logue, Steve Addabbo
Grammy Winner Steve Addabbo On Sitting Down and Getting It Done
Creative Space with Jennifer Logue
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Creative Space with Jennifer Logue
Grammy Winner Steve Addabbo On Sitting Down and Getting It Done
Nov 06, 2022
Jennifer Logue, Steve Addabbo

On today’s episode of Creative Space,  we have the pleasure of chatting with Steve Addabbo. He’s a music producer, songwriter, audio engineer and Grammy winner who’s helped launch the careers of artists like Suzanne Vega and Shawn Colvin. He’s also owned Shelter Island Sound in New York City for over 30 years, where he’s produced and engineered for artists like Bob Dylan, Bobby McFerrin, Jeff Buckley, Olivia Newton John and many, many more. 

His incredible musical journey is a testament to where creativity can take you when you “sit down and get it done.” All we have control over is following inspiration and doing the work. We never know where our creation will land, but sometimes, like in Steve’s case, it could resurface 45 years later in a major feature film or play a major role in the development of a technology that changes the world.

Steve has a lot of new projects you can check out, including Jim & Sasha Allen’s debut EP, 16 Borders, which he produced.

He just finished producing Tribute to a Songpoet, a 42-song tribute album to Eric Andersen featuring artists like Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, and Steve himself covering Andersen’s songs.

And to hear Steve’s own music, definitely check out his album, Out of Nothing, which is  available anywhere you stream music.

For more information on Steve Addabbo, you can visit: steveaddabbo.com and for more on his studio, Shelter Island Sound, visit: shelterislandsound.com.

To sign up for the weekly Creative Space newsletter, visit:
eepurl.com/h8SJ9b.

To become a patron of the Creative Space Podcast, visit:
https://bit.ly/3ECD2Kr.

SHOW NOTES:

0:00—Intro

1:09—How did we meet?

2:17—The magic of “Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom)” for a 5 year old

3:44—Singing for the bus driver

4:45—The guitar player next door

6:02—Wanting to do music professionally

6:45—How music literally saved Steve’s life (The Vietnam Draft Lottery)

8:42—How do you define creativity?

13:40—The true artist sits down and gets it done

15:50—How do you know when a work is complete?

20:32—The beginnings of Arbuckle 

23:45—Opening for Bruce Springsteen in Philly

25:20—A major music placement 45 years in the making

30:10—Steve and Suzanne’s role in the birth of the mp3

35:00—The ”Tom’s Diner” remix

36:00—Writing “Left of Center” for the iconic film, ‘Pretty in Pink’

43:00—Working on Jim & Sasha Allen’s debut EP

50:00—Mixing Bob Dylan 

51:16—Working on a 42-song tribute record for Eric Andersen

53:00—What’s next for Steve





Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

On today’s episode of Creative Space,  we have the pleasure of chatting with Steve Addabbo. He’s a music producer, songwriter, audio engineer and Grammy winner who’s helped launch the careers of artists like Suzanne Vega and Shawn Colvin. He’s also owned Shelter Island Sound in New York City for over 30 years, where he’s produced and engineered for artists like Bob Dylan, Bobby McFerrin, Jeff Buckley, Olivia Newton John and many, many more. 

His incredible musical journey is a testament to where creativity can take you when you “sit down and get it done.” All we have control over is following inspiration and doing the work. We never know where our creation will land, but sometimes, like in Steve’s case, it could resurface 45 years later in a major feature film or play a major role in the development of a technology that changes the world.

Steve has a lot of new projects you can check out, including Jim & Sasha Allen’s debut EP, 16 Borders, which he produced.

He just finished producing Tribute to a Songpoet, a 42-song tribute album to Eric Andersen featuring artists like Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, and Steve himself covering Andersen’s songs.

And to hear Steve’s own music, definitely check out his album, Out of Nothing, which is  available anywhere you stream music.

For more information on Steve Addabbo, you can visit: steveaddabbo.com and for more on his studio, Shelter Island Sound, visit: shelterislandsound.com.

To sign up for the weekly Creative Space newsletter, visit:
eepurl.com/h8SJ9b.

To become a patron of the Creative Space Podcast, visit:
https://bit.ly/3ECD2Kr.

SHOW NOTES:

0:00—Intro

1:09—How did we meet?

2:17—The magic of “Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom)” for a 5 year old

3:44—Singing for the bus driver

4:45—The guitar player next door

6:02—Wanting to do music professionally

6:45—How music literally saved Steve’s life (The Vietnam Draft Lottery)

8:42—How do you define creativity?

13:40—The true artist sits down and gets it done

15:50—How do you know when a work is complete?

20:32—The beginnings of Arbuckle 

23:45—Opening for Bruce Springsteen in Philly

25:20—A major music placement 45 years in the making

30:10—Steve and Suzanne’s role in the birth of the mp3

35:00—The ”Tom’s Diner” remix

36:00—Writing “Left of Center” for the iconic film, ‘Pretty in Pink’

43:00—Working on Jim & Sasha Allen’s debut EP

50:00—Mixing Bob Dylan 

51:16—Working on a 42-song tribute record for Eric Andersen

53:00—What’s next for Steve





Jennifer Logue:

Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of creative space, a Podcast where we explore, learn and grow and creativity together. I'm your host Jennifer Logue. And today we have the pleasure of chatting with Steve Addabbo. He's a music producer, songwriter, audio engineer and Grammy winner, so cool, who's helped launch the careers of Suzanne Vega, and Shawn Colvin. He's owned Shelter Island Sound in New York City for over 30 years. And he's produced and engineered artists like Bob Dylan, Bobby McFerrin, Jeff Buckley, Olivia Newton, John, and many, many more. He's also a friend of mine and a wonderful human. Welcome. Welcome to Creative Space. Do you?

Steve Addabbo:

Hi, Jennifer. Thanks for having me. This is fun.

Jennifer Logue:

It's such an honor. Oh, my gosh. And I see you're in the studio. So yeah, I

Steve Addabbo:

figured we'd do a studio shoot here. Why not?

Jennifer Logue:

Love it? So we're gonna jump right into it. Actually. I wanted to how did we meet again, we talked about this a little bit, but we

Steve Addabbo:

were trying to figure this out. You seemed mean, you have a better memory than me. You seem to think we were at a one of these narrow music supervisor meetings that I held at the studio here that test Taylor runs out from California, where we, they bring in music supervisors, and people pitch their music. So I gotten involved with her. And maybe maybe that's where you maybe you came to one of those. I can't imagine where else we met. Yeah, I

Jennifer Logue:

think that's what it was. But then we ended up collaborating on a few songs, which was so cool. And yeah.

Steve Addabbo:

They're still going to come out somewhere, they will land somewhere. They're good. No.

Jennifer Logue:

Well, that, if you think that, see if that makes me feel really good. So

Steve Addabbo:

I do think we wrote some good pop songs. They're

Jennifer Logue:

cool, putting it out into the universe. So we never really got a chance to talk about your early life and your upbringing. Your career has done so many cool things in your career, Steve, so there's so much to dig into. But when did you first discover your love for music?

Steve Addabbo:

You know, I could go back as early as second grade, I think. It may it may be even earlier than that. You know, when I was four or five. I remember. My parents had a small record player, you know, and I think they had a version of Perry Como was Hot diggity dog diggity, it was a single. And I still remember playing that when I'm like four or five years old. So that was kind of my first inkling that I, you know, I appreciated music or pop songs. I mean, it's, it's a terrible record, if you listen to it now. But, you know, for four or five year olds, it seemed pretty magical. And then I guess I remember they can second grade. I just can't remember my mom was was kind of a she wasn't a musician, but she would, you know, sit down. We didn't have a piano in the house. But my grandmother had one. And she used to sit down piano and dabble. And she would sing to herself. So I think somewhere that, you know, she had some kind of musical gene. She never took advantage of it that much. And then I just started singing to myself. And I think it was a very strange story that I was on school bus coming home. I think it's second grade. And the bus driver says, you come up here he goes, sing, sing that song fascination for me. Now, how does he know? I know how to sing. How does he know? I even know this song. I still haven't. I've never figured this one out, you know. And so somehow I remember singing the song. It was fascination. I know, but I'd add it at a you know, and maybe I learned from my mother, how did I know the song? And how did he know I could sing? And I'm singing on the school bus to this bus driver. And that was that's all I remember. The whole thing was like weird. And then you know, yeah. And then later on. You know, I got introduced to the guitar. And when I was about, I guess, fourth or fifth grade, I started dabbling, playing a little bit with it. And then I had a next door neighbor who was very influential. It turns out because he was a he was an electronic engineer, worked in avionics for Grumman, I think, and he was in wedding bands on the weekend. And he had this great guitar set up in an echo Plex and and he just set up all this stuff and I go over there and listen to like, beautiful old guitar stuff, you know. So that was pretty much good luck. I'm gonna learn how to do this. You know, that's what I want to do.

Jennifer Logue:

How long were you first started going over his house? Oh, I

Steve Addabbo:

would say, I mean, he was right next door. So I, you know, I would say I was in fourth or fifth grade however old dad is 10 or 11, something like that, you know? And, and, you know, just kind of hearing, you know, a guitar sounding that good. That close up was like, Yeah, you know, when it was at eight when he played very kind of standard kind of stuff wasn't rock and roll, but it was still, you know, very impressive sounding to me. So I was like, Yeah, I'm gonna learn how to do this.

Jennifer Logue:

Nice. And he started playing guitar then like Ron, yeah, great.

Steve Addabbo:

Yeah. And then my mom finally figured out that, you know, I could take guitar lessons. And so we rented a nylon string guitar from the school. And I'd go there on Saturday mornings, and just start taking lessons. And and that was that was, you know, that was kind of the beginning.

Jennifer Logue:

Awesome. When did he know you wanted to do music professionally?

Steve Addabbo:

Oh, well, I think pretty much. Once I got once I got into college, you know, and I was, you know, I was also on both sides of the fence. I really liked the technical world. I like to fiddle with electronics, but I really liked playing guitar and doing music. So, you know, once I started getting into serious engineering school was like, I don't know if I really want to do this for my whole living, you know, so I just kept playing guitar. And then I started then I also became a music major at the same time, which helped me in those days, you needed to have a college deferment to stay out of the draft, this was the Vietnam War era. And if you didn't, and you got a low number in the in the draft lottery, I don't even know if you know what that is. But there was a time I guess it was clicking 1970 or 71, they did a draft lottery where basically, they played bingo with your life, there was 365 balls with birth dates on them, you know, and they pick them out in the first 120 Birthdays, you're gonna get drafted the next ones, maybe not. And if you got lucky, and you got like, over 240, chances are you wouldn't get drafted. So that was the first time I was in the top 10. So I got my, my birthday came out almost immediately. And I was like, damn, so But luckily, I was. I had my two esta Firmen, which kept chat, which kept out cool, because I was a double degree guy doing music and engineering. I had an extra year. And that extra year proved to be crucial. Because the draft ended in the spring of my final year of school. I had already gotten the letter to come down to Whitehall street and get my physical.

Jennifer Logue:

Wow. So music saved your life?

Steve Addabbo:

I would say, you know, I would say having that that music degree. Definitely. I mean, I don't know what I would have done if I actually was faced with being drafted. I mean, there was ways to get around it or, you know, claiming you have psychiatric problems and building up there. I mean, we there were ways people are running, running off to Canada. I don't know if I'd ever been that brave to do that. But I don't think it was. I just couldn't imagine being in the Army. I just wasn't. So luckily, I didn't have to deal with it.

Jennifer Logue:

Oh my gosh, well, we're all very lucky. You a lot of music to make. So now on to, you know, thoughts on creativity and the creative life. This is creative space. So I asked this question of everyone. How would you define creativity? Where does it come from?

Steve Addabbo:

Wow. Well, defining creativity, not an easy question to answer, obviously, you know that but to me when I feel like I'm creative, I don't even know if this answers the question is when you get into a zone where you start to forget about the material world around you and what you're dealing with on a day to day basis. And you get into this world where something emerges, you know, whether it's from your unconscious or conscious where you start it. And for me, it was it was writing music and when I started writing, I wrote my first song I don't think I was 19 even know if I was I might I don't even know if I was playing guitar at that point. So it might have been like 10 or 11 years old. My uncle had given me this little portable battery powered tape recorder with the little three three inch wheels three and a half inch wheels on it and I would do my own radio show counting down the top 10 and stuff and then one day I you know, I started I just wrote my own song was kind of a take off on a Beach Boys song about a fast car or something was terrible, but it was you know, it was like Just started to write a song for no reason. So you know, I think I think a lot of people have very different ways of getting to their creative core. Some people are very disciplined about or other people just wait for the muse to hit them. But I think I think when it's the best is when all of a sudden, you just, and a lot of times for me, if I first sit down at the guitar, and I'm not even thinking, I just start playing something, like, it'd be pretty cool like that, maybe I could do something with this, you know, then then you start to think about it. And then, you know, either the door opens or the door slammed in your face, and you go, this is going nowhere. But where that, where that drive comes from to do that, or just even that ability to sit down and go, Okay, I'm gonna put this together now. And I really need a better second line or, you know, you write a great first line, and that's like, great. Now, if the write the rest of the song, what is this about? You know, I don't know, I don't really know. So you know, but where that creative juices spring from, you know, for me, also, it's just just sitting down and playing the guitar, it puts you in a zone that disconnects you from a lot of the material world, and you just kind of get in there. And all of a sudden, it's like, if you've done your homework, practicing the guitar over the years, and you can just kind of not think about where your fingers are going and just kind of start to just play. I mean, that comes from a place it's very much like improvising, you just come from a place where you're not really thinking, but your body and emotions are, are are leading the way. And it starts to you start to get into the spot where the stuff comes out. And you don't even know where it's coming from go, did I just do that? I didn't know where that is, you know, and what did I do? 10 minutes ago, I don't really remember now, you know, so it's elusive that, you know, it's elusive to get into that zone. And, you know, there are times when you feel like you're more receptive to it. And then there are times when you just feel like you're knocking your head against the wall. And I mean, other people. I mean, I know people like, especially the writers in Nashville, you know, they have their, their regimen and they go on to have these three hour co writing sessions with people and they really kind of push themselves to get into that zone. I think that's a lot of the success of a lot of people that they actually, you know, they just basically say they show up, you know, if you show up, and you start to do it, something maybe will happen if you don't show up, we think about doing it, then you get nothing, you know,

Jennifer Logue:

you gotta take action.

Steve Addabbo:

I think so I think, you know, a lot of, I think a lot of art is in a certain sense. What's the right word, I don't want to say mechanical, but just, it's the, it's the people who have have the ability to sit down and do it. And a lot of us don't, and a lot of us are just too busy doing so much other stuff. You know, I'm actually working on my new song called busy doing nothing, which kind of kind of speaks to this, you know, and it's, I've just got to get it's basically done, but I gotta I gotta finish it, but it it's like, oh my god, I got no time for this. I've got no time for that. I mean, I'm busy doing nothing, what am I doing, you know, but in the day is like my cutoff time for this. And it's like, the true artists, puts all that stuff aside, and then starts to and just gets down to it and all and, you know, having been around some really true artists like Suzanne Vega, or Eric Anderson, or they just, this is central to their core, you know, we're I'm kind of like, well, I'm an engineer, I'm a producer, I'm a guitar player, I write songs, sometimes I've got all these other things going on. So it's very hard for me to just fashioned myself as a songwriter, again, today creative zone. And there are different types of creative zones, there's the ones where you're trying to write is also the ones where you're trying to work on help someone else when I'm producing somebody, to, to you know, help them realize what they're trying to get to and certainly being creative in a way of working with someone who's trying to do a vocal which is one of the hardest things of that we all do, you know, in a studio trying to get get to a spot where it's exciting and honest and the singers really connecting with the song and then therefore connecting with me through the speakers, which is my job and as being a producer to to make that happen. So there's that creative zone which I love being in also because all of a sudden you're you're in a tunnel together. You're trying to get to the other end and and it's very much like being in a tunnel a creative zone, I think because you're just kind of in there and you're you're working with what you have and trying to keep you know keeping them voices say this sucks, you suck, what are you doing this for Go, go do something else. And, you know, once you can beat away those demons and stuff and just let it flow, then it kind of it does parallel in a lot of different ways, you know, making a record, writing a song, doing a mix, you know, it's like all these all these steps to making a record to making music all involve a little different level or area of creativity. And it's still a fascinating thing for me to do it. Because when you really get there, and then you can actually sit back and listen to what you didn't like it. That's a good spot to be in. Oh, it doesn't always happen, you know, it's hard to get to that spot.

Jennifer Logue:

It No, it doesn't. And, you know, that kind of lens on another question that I had? How do you know what a work is complete? Like, how do you know for you when a song is done? Or when a mix is done? Or because you can perpetually keep going with it?

Steve Addabbo:

Well, yeah, especially today, with all we have at our fingertips, you know, we can make, you can get into such nitty gritties minut details that no one will ever notice. I think there's just a point where it's satisfying, and you feel like you've, you've you've put in almost the right way to say this, you feel like you have examined, especially that getting a mix, let's say hit start there. It's, it's so it's so variable, and it has so many solutions, you know, there's so many possibilities, that it's very hard to keep, you know, keep keep your eye on the ball and just and just just really create and create a mix that really works. And what does that mean? That means a mix that, that comes out of the speaker sounds good, makes people want to listen to the song and makes people want to listen to the singer makes people want to listen to the storyline. And, and all the technical, more mumbo jumbo that we do to get there is is behind the scenes and you don't see it. So how do you know when it's done is one that all that kind of goes away? And you're listening? And all of a sudden you go, Oh, that sounds like a song now? And you're done? I mean, that's usually what the point, I guess was, you know what, that sound? That sounds like a song now it's okay, you know? Yeah, maybe the guitar part could be a half a dB lower and adverse, you know, but maybe not, maybe it's actually good that way, because it's not really going to matter that much to the other outside listener if the guitar is a half a dB louder or not in that verse, because as long as it's not distracting from the vocal line. It's it's hard to know when you're really done. But at a certain point, it's like, well, I've pretty much done everything I can sounds good to me, I can sit back and listen to it and not go, Oh, crap that's in the way or no, I really can't hear that third line of that verse, I gotta go back in and get that up a little bit. Or the bass is really too loud, or oh my god, it's just endless, you know. So you could mix forever. But I think there was a certain point when you go, Okay, this is done. And also, same thing with writing a song, I think, at a certain point, you started the first line of the first person and maybe the rest of the verse come, then it may be figured out it might be if the second verse and yeah, have a chorus idea, we have the chorus of the first. And but then as you just play it through, you go, yeah, this is done. And of course, the best way to figure out if your song is done is to go play in front of an audience. And see if they take their cell phones out in a second verse, are they listening to you? You know, because, and I tell that a lot of my artists, you know, a lot of people want to come in here, I just just wrote a song, I want to record it, I'm going to play it and for anybody to play it out there now. Play it out there and then come back in and do it. And you'd be amazed, just you know, right away, you know, if you're singing, doing a song live in an audience and something's not right, the second verse is lagging, or it's not interesting, or so, I mean, I think that's when your song is done. And when you actually play it in front of play in front of an audience and they they follow you all the way through. You feel really good at the end of it.

Jennifer Logue:

That's a great way to go about just when you decide to record something, like Have you played it, some of my best songs have been ones that I've you know, written in bands and we got to see the audience's reaction you get to get a feel for it. And I mean, I find myself rewriting the song a lot as it's being performed,

Steve Addabbo:

rewriting it as a performer. Yeah. That I think that's part of the process. I think it's really a really important part of the process because once once you mean I always like to have extra ears around either when I'm mixing or, or that when you're when you're playing the song for an audience or even if it's six people doesn't really matter, but You know, right Oh, you kind of know that yeah, this is a complete work and and it's working. You know, I see people responding to it. I see them following the storyline and I, I feel the connection and then I go yeah, this is this works. This is a good song. You know it. So then yeah, then then you're finished writing it.

Jennifer Logue:

Cool. So when you create something, I love the story about your song with your band Arbuckle. It's, you never know when something's going to land. No, you know, Andrew, once you create something that takes on a life of its own, you have no control over how people perceive it where it goes, but you did your job and you stepped up to the plate. You You know brought it to fruition and now it's in the world for people to enjoy. And sometimes how many years ago right? We'd love to hear this story. I love this story so much about your song.

Steve Addabbo:

Well, when I was in college, you know, I was Yeah, I was. I was at Stony Brook University. My my next door neighbor in the dorm. My buddy Ron Fierstein had a rock band in Brooklyn. He'd go back every weekend. And but him and I were both kind of folkies at Hardy like Cat Stevens. I like James Taylor. And so we we kind of teamed up and did an acoustic duo and we were writing songs he would write his we weren't running so writing together but he had his songs I had my songs and we we played around the coffee houses and on it Stony Brook and a couple off off campus. We opened up for Joshua Jr. Once it was like our big gig. And eventually we melded our folk songs or acoustic songs with his rock band and formed a band. And one of the members of the band, had some connections he worked. He was an intern at billboard or something and he found these producers who were looking for a young band. And they came down to see us we had a they had a rehearsal space in Brooklyn, I was commuting from Stony Brook to Brooklyn to rehearse in between classes, and they liked this and we got up we got a record deal and I was barely a senior in high school in that was actually had a year another year to go on school because it was a five year person now so so my last my last year I was on the road doing gigs plus going to the studio, I got to work at media Sound Studio B which is a legendary place in New York City to record our first record and came out on a label called Musical records. And originally, the name of the band was circus but for some reason we didn't think that was cool. Since my friend Ron was kind of heavyset that time because that was his way of staying out of the draft to be overweight, which was he was successful with. It was unbelievable way to go through this thing out of Vietnam, you know, and somehow his friends used to nicknamed them Fatty Arbuckle. So this name Arbuckle was kind of floating around. Little did we know that fatty? Arbuckle was a complete pervert child molester. What we didn't know that. Oh, no. There was no there was no internet internet stuff out, you know. That's an unusual name. No one's no band's name. So we renamed the band Arbuckle. And it's such a terrible name. But anyway. And that was the record that came out on musical records in late 72. I guess it came out. And we, you know, we got some local radio play, and we got to open up for Bruce Springsteen at the Roxy theater in Philadelphia. Oh, after his first record, he drew 200 people there. It's a 600 seat theater. And it was really a great it was one of my great nights because he was up in the dressing room. And he saw me take out my guitar, he hands me a wire we're jamming up and his rest dressing room and he he sat down and watched our whole set, you know, and then comes up a meet the top planes fills up the band. Nice, it's good. And then he then I sit down and watch his show. And it blows us out of the water. We were in kindergarten and he was like, he was in a Ph. D. I mean, it was just I don't think I've ever seen a band that great. Now the originally street band with David Sanchez on keyboards. It's just like, damn, and the song and the way he was it was just, I mean, it was I mean, I was embarrassed that he actually saw my watch.

Jennifer Logue:

Because I think we're all harder on ourselves.

Steve Addabbo:

Man, you know, but I mean, he was.

Jennifer Logue:

So you have it, seen it differently. Got it. So cool. Steve

Steve Addabbo:

differently. Yeah. I mean, he was but he was just after his first record. And this is, you know, and he was talking to me and he was and record companies unhappy. I only sold 30,000 records. And then, of course, you know, two years later, I'm in Brooklyn, driving a taxicab in between gigs that pay the rent. And he's on the cover of Time Magazine. And I was like, holy moly, you know, is like this can really happen, you know. So it was it was quite the quite the eye opening thing. So anyway, one of the songs I'd written, Ron wrote more of the songs that I only had like two songs that I wrote on the record. In this one song called A New Day, I remember hearing it in my living, there was a station on Long Island called W li are very influential FM rock, progressive station at the time. And I was sitting there, and my mom was there. And all of a sudden, my song came on the radio. And it was like such a, you know, one of those moments like, oh, my gosh, you know, it's like, wow, it's really on the radio and guy said he liked it, blah, blah, blah. There was no, no real hit from the album. We, you know, we toured a little bit. But, you know, mostly, mostly the, we I think we did cut a second record, but it never really came out. I don't think we had enough material. And that was kind of the end of it. You know, when I basically forgot about Arbuckle for like, 45 years, or whatever it was, you know, because it was like, okay, you know, it was fun. We did it. Yeah, we were Bruce Springsteen. That's a cool story in the open for dark. But how can a medicine show once that was fun, but then I just went off to be a road musician. We had a country trio for a while, and I played in the show band for a few years cool. making my living playing guitar, though. It's fun.

Jennifer Logue:

But then 45 years later, you get word that aren't the song, a new day is being featured in a Shirley MacLaine film, The Last Word, which is really cool.

Steve Addabbo:

It's totally out of the blue. I had nothing to do with it, I guess. Because at the time, you know, we knew nothing about the business. So we signed away all our publishing, not the writer share, but the our publisher share. And at some point, I guess it was the guys who produced us. I guess they they took the other part of the publishing and at one point, when they sold it to another company, but someone was actually working their catalog, and they were looking for authentic 70s music. They didn't want sound like they wanted something that was recorded in the 70s. And somehow, some way, they picked that song. It's the only song I sang on the record to buy the wow, that's cool. Ron Ron was the mace basically the lead singer. And I get this call, you know, can you see the Bible from our buckle? And I'm like, I couldn't be know what this was about. And this lawyer in LA was like, Well, you know, we've placed your song and this movie in the barn, we just want, you know, to to sign off on it. And there's a there's a sync fee and did it on and is it a fine? You know, so me, I basically made more money in that sync fee than entire two years of being in Arbuckle, you know, the band was making $50 a gig maybe if we were lucky, you know, so it was it was and in then I got to see the movie, and they use it in a scene where she's going down to see her daughter and they're driving along the Pacific coast or something. And it's literally on for like, two minutes in the background. You know, and they make guitar solos in there. And I had to laugh at it. You know, it's like it's so it's such a pristine little guitar solo, you know, I'm so but but Yeah, and like, you know, while it shows up on my ass cap, you know, the statement they played it for a week in Germany and

Jennifer Logue:

back then you didn't know 45 years ago. The song would resurface in such a big way. Yeah, it's so cool. So such

Steve Addabbo:

a 70s lyric I had a rap with a wonderful friends like, you know, there wasn't rap music back then. Rap man, you were having a conversation you know, and I listened to that go boy, it's so seven days that lyric

Jennifer Logue:

Well, you can't get more seven isn't that song?

Steve Addabbo:

Oh, no, no, you know, but yeah, but yeah, I mean, the movies not that bad. I you know, I have you know, I think I know where Shirley MacLaine is these days but man happy and it's actually kind of a cute movie she wants to. She wants to find someone and write her a bitch obituary. And then the writer she hires can't find anyone say a good word about herself. This gets kids. It's a cute idea. Fabulous, fabulous movie, but it's not bad. You know?

Jennifer Logue:

I love the concepts. I thought it was really well done. The writer in me. Yeah, love loves it. So, in my research for this episode, I found out some things about you that I didn't know about that. I think a really

Steve Addabbo:

good no but no.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, you know. So I know you co produce Tom's Diner for Suzanne Vega. Yep. But I didn't realize it was that song that made her The mother of the mp3. Yeah. And you did the recording. Can we talk about that? That's so cool.

Steve Addabbo:

Yeah, sure. I mean, I didn't know about this either for quite a while later. And then story emerged about Dr. Brandenburg. When we were recording solitude standing, which is the album that Tom's Diner is on, Tom's diner opens the album and it's an acapella song, because that's the way she did it on in her show, it was like, let's just do it that way. Let's not produce it. Let's just let her do a cup, you know. So basically, we were up in Bearsville studios up in Woodstock. Excuse me, which is a beautiful old studio no longer there. It's huge. It's like a big huge barn is the recording room. And everyone from the band and Dylan, I mean, everyone went through that place. So here I am trying. So here I am trying to record Suzanne Vega singing acapella song and this cavern, you know, so I kind of, we have to go blow it all up and make sure it's not too echoey. And, you know, we were still in the world of tape back then obviously, we were using studio 24 track machine. And it was like, and I was, I was into like having really great sound for her and my production. So I decided I would record it on a brand new Sony digital f1 which is basically a Betamax tape machine hooked up to this little processor. And it was really the early one of the earliest digital recordings. Digital recording technology that was around was only for two tracks, but I only needed one track for her. So you know, we did about seven takes, I think we pick the third take. And the master for that is actually a Betamax tape. You know, it's actually that's how that's how the digital information was stored. They use videotape and they did that for many years. Even when all the CD craze came around, they were using three quarter inch videotape. So that was the master and we mixed it out and a&m Studios with Shelly axis and that was pretty much it, you know, and we started the song with them started the album with an acapella song and then we pretty much went right into Luca after that it was like a slam dunk, you know, slam dunk kind of beginning of an album to get there, get your attention when the acapella song and then have those the production of Luca come in. And and yeah, I mean, I had no idea. So the story goes that Dr. Brandenburg was was tweaking his algorithm for this mp3 Because they were trying to figure out a way to make digital files smaller, so they could be sent over phone lines, and, you know, eventually through the air streaming, without too much data. So they were trying to figure out a way to eliminate almost 90% of the data and still make it sound good. So he thought he had a pretty good thing going. And then he heard the acapella version of Suzanna goes, you know, I should probably test it on that. Because, you know, it's pretty bare. And so when he did it, it sounded terrible. The book was just like, digitized, nasty stuff going on in there. And so it's like, he says, in his little interview goes, it caused me a lot of trouble. Oh my gosh, yeah. So they had a good so he went back in and he had to figure out a way to get rid of the digital distortion on that. And he said, he probably listened to that song four or 5000 times. That's crazy. So and then but eventually, you know, I mean, we all take the mp3 for granted and considering they're throwing away 90% of the files, the bits to make it sound it's pretty miraculous that it sounds as good as it does, you know?

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, but I mean, that song is like, what's the standard for every mp3 to come after?

Steve Addabbo:

That is so cool me I cannot tell you you know, all around the world. As soon as you start singing that melody everybody knows what it is. You know, it's so crazy it is literally the first thing I heard her perform. You know when I saw her the very first time before we had done any work together she was opening it folk city and we were looking for an artist to develop and she just came out and started the did is it's pretty bolted start to start a you know a set like that and but it was really cool. And that's why we started the album that way because we had the song for the first record salt the salt to standing record was our second album. For some reason it didn't I didn't want to put it on the first record. It didn't seem like it fit. And I'm glad we didn't because It just it just exploded. I mean, Luke is what exploded on the second album and then Tom's diner. The first one of the early remix remixes that the the duo DNA from England did it without our permission they took her vote acapella vocal and put a beat upon it beat on him. And that kind of opened up the frickin door for sampling and so the assets that song really landmark in a couple of different ways.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah. History making song Hakuna, who

Steve Addabbo:

got a simple such a simple song, you know, such a sip, but it's such a catchy little Melody. Melody, remember that, folks? Remember that? songwriters. Melody?

Jennifer Logue:

That's my favorite part of a song, Steve. I don't know. I don't know about you. Sure. So, you also co wrote the song left of center with Suzanne Vega. Will the iconic film Pretty in Pink? I got to ask, first of all, how did that opportunity come about? To write for the movie?

Steve Addabbo:

Well, that's that's the that's the advantage of being on a major label because we Suzanne was on a&m records. And a&m was a very artists oriented label. And they was run by Herb Alpert, who was great musician, trumpet player. And Jerry Moss was his business partner. That was the a&m Alberta moss. And so they were very supportive of new artists. And when we got Suzanne signed to them, she became part of the family and they would do whatever they they could do to get her frame it, you know, just make her successful. That's the word successful, right. And so they were working on this new soundtrack for a new John Hughes film, they had done one with the Breakfast Club. And they would do in a follow up, which was going to be pretty in pink wouldn't even know it was called that at the time. And they sent us a script, they said Susannah script, to say we'd like you to submit a song for this, maybe we can get you on the soundtrack. Sounds good. So we're on the road. Not that at that point, I was still touring with the band a bit just as a manager, overseeing just the day to day details a lot, you know, being on the road, just kind of being an extra hand there. I had started out doing live sound, but then I can't we kind of, I punted, that was too much work. And we hired somebody who's probably better at it anyway. So um, so that was good. Little Robin. Dana came in. And so, you know, we're on the road, and she has a script. And we're, we're, I think we're in San, we're on our way to San Francisco. And I think it's a Monday, in on Thursday, a&m was hoping we do a demo for this new song. So I said, Oh, Susanna, how you doing on that new song? He goes, what new song? Oh, no. Something like that. I go, have you even looked at the script? She goes, No. Look at the script. Look at the script, because Oh, okay. Sometimes she had to be pushed a little bit. And so she looked good. I don't move it at it. I'm gonna go find something, you know, so, so just scribble some stuff down. You know, whatever. So so she's, she's on the bus, and she's looking at the, you know, reading some of the script, and she's kind of writing some stuff in her notebook. It goes, well come up with anything. Is that I don't think so. It's not gonna work. No, go. So let me so she shows me this. Like, it's a one point I see down in the corner. She wrote left to center. I said, I like that left the center. It sounds like a good title. So she goes, Okay, so she wrote some lyrics. So then we're in San Francisco on Monday, we're driving down. I think. I think we're in LA on Tuesday. Or Wednesday, maybe Tuesday, we get there. And I go, Suzanne, we know we have Have you written anything? She would? No not not. I have some words that don't have music. That Okay, I'm coming down. So, go down there. It's numerous in like in the afternoon, motel in LA. And I just sit down and like, like I said before, I just kind of start playing the guitar in that little guitar that guitar lick did bad, bad. It just came out of nowhere. You know, I was just like I said, okay, yeah, this is cool. And she will see I like that and I was just started singing the words. And we put it together and like a couple of hours. And I didn't even really have the chords totally worked out for the bridge but it was like Okay, and so she she pretty much had enough lyric if you notice, there's no second verse. It's like two first verses if you're listening to the slugs like okay, well, but we she got away with it. And on Thursday we went in. It was either Thursday or Friday of that week. We went into an amp studios just myself and her, me and her. And we laid it down just acoustic you know, I was playing the acoustic guitar and she was singing it. And we no overdubs. Anything that was it. That was the demo. We got it. I wish I had that demo, I don't know where that is, I don't know, the awesome to hear. I don't know where I knew. I don't know where that is, and and it got accepted into the movie. Wow, it was like, wow, okay, and so then there's like, I gotta know, you got to produce it, you know, and you got to do it up a little bit. And since, you know, since they had liked the acoustic version that we did, I figured I'd keep it kind of acoustic a and and being on a&m records, you know, they said, Well, why don't we have a guest artists to give a little more star power because no one really knows Suzanne yet was after her first record, we may be sold 90,000 records in the art on her first record in America, you know, which wasn't, was respectable, they didn't think she'd go past 15 or 20,000 records when they signed her and they thought that would be okay, because first record, so she was doing okay. And they said, Well, you know, Joe Jackson is on our label, maybe he can come in and play some piano one I want to tell ya. So all of a sudden, you know, I had a recording session that I had Joe Jackson coming down the lane, some piano one was just this was, you know, for me, I mean, I had really just produced Suzanne's first record. And so this was like a really fun opportunity. Of course, I was a little nervous working with Joe Jackson. But he was fine. And you know, he did some beautiful piano work and a couple of souls the end, and I remember him saying me, tell him away, you know, you got to tell me if you if this is good enough. And I go, you know, it's good enough. It's fine. You had a beautiful solo at the end, they didn't want to, you know, keep going home. Try one more, try one more, you know, plus we run analog these those days, we can have independent tracks. And you know, so we submitted it, I did the mix, so we mixed mine and mix it with somebody else at that point. And I'm Harvey Goldberg, maybe, yeah, and then so we submitted the mix. And the record company heard it. And they thought maybe it was compared to the rest of the soundtrack. It was a little lightweight in terms of the production because I'd gone for the more acoustic thing. And they said, Why don't you work with Arthur Baker, and he'll put some, you know, little more beef into it, I got fine. I didn't care. It was my I had to have the song, I was going to get it in the movie. So I got to work with Arthur Baker, who was very famous in those days for kind of the, you know, really big snare sound and drum beat and stuff. And, and so he added some production touches to it. And he's very nice and didn't, you know, it was very respectful of me. And then we got to mix it again with him. And that's the version that's on the record, you know, and so he has not gone away from the 1986 it's now 37 years.

Jennifer Logue:

It's iconic. It's so cool to have a song in that film. Yeah.

Steve Addabbo:

And the soundtrack when platinum, you know, and yeah, it paid off very nicely. So

Jennifer Logue:

cool. Um, so now flash forward. To You know, today, you just produced the 16 borders EP, for Jim and Sasha Allen, which is a history making father son duo on the voice.

Steve Addabbo:

I didn't realize that history making parts so you research that a little more. I mean, I just I thought they might have had some other trans artists there. This, you know, Sasha, had trans, trans thin, middle high school there. So

Jennifer Logue:

yeah, well, the it's 21 years of this show, Sasha was the first openly transgender artists to make it past the battle rounds. 31 years to make it past the battle rounds. show's been on for 21 years. It's been on for 21 years. Apparently. I, I don't want to think

Steve Addabbo:

for a couple of seasons. I'm 20. Holy cow vibing in a cave.

Jennifer Logue:

I mean, I didn't look at this. I'd read this online, so maybe I should fact check it again. I'll read it in the show notes. Make sure it is actually we have the internet right here. So let's

Steve Addabbo:

check it out. Because I mean, I understand you know, American Idol. But you know, that was

Jennifer Logue:

Oh God see what does say 2121 21 Season Season

Steve Addabbo:

while still here we go while still if they do two seasons a year.

Jennifer Logue:

Okay, so, okay, so fact checking myself. It's actually 21 seasons, and it started in 2011.

Steve Addabbo:

All right. Okay. Because yeah, I can do that.

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, that's acceptable.

Steve Addabbo:

Okay. Stan, you stand Correct.

Jennifer Logue:

I stand corrected.

Steve Addabbo:

out now, if there was an Internet back then this band name Arbuckle would never have happened. I'm telling you to right now.

Jennifer Logue:

You would have had a different name.

Steve Addabbo:

Probably. Yeah. And the name didn't I don't think the name helped us. It might hurt us. Who knows?

Jennifer Logue:

But yeah, let's talk about the 16 borders EP. It's four songs. And it just got released, right?

Steve Addabbo:

Yeah, just a few weeks ago, you know, just came out and it's another The thing that is completely came out of the blue you know, as as you go through this and your producer and you meet you meet a&r people along the way. And, you know, being in the business now for so long while I was a&r people were very young when they started, you know, and I met them. And now they're in more powerful positions. And David Walther, who was originally I think, an a&r rep at RCA. I don't know 1520 years ago, maybe we had connected and done some stuff together over the years. And he knew some, my younger engineers, and he was always aware of me. And once in a while, we'll send stuff in, when when I guess it was Monty Lippmann, who runs head of Republic records party UMG decided they wanted to sign these, you know, signs, Jim and Sasha. It got dumped in David's lap. Okay, you know, make a record with them. So David's, you know, and this is like a fairly acoustic duo in this day and age. So he's like, Dave was like, who would help him do this? Go, Steve can do this? Yeah, like I, you know, I got they got to remember. And so I got the call and I met them. And you know, it was really fun and, and we basically did that thing. And four days, you know, we went through, you know, a few more of their songs. And it was a real pleasure to work with them. They're both really talented. Sasha beautiful voice and Jim who wrote writes the songs and multi instrumentalist plays guitar, keyboards, mandolin, accordion, you name it. And I record I wanted to record them pretty much alive, because I thought what they did was live, the harmonies, they work off each other live, I didn't want to just go okay, now Jim, you do the basic track with the torn your vocal, I'm gonna add Sasha, I just didn't think it would work that way. So I set them up, you know, in my room separated them enough in case you know, we do want to fix a line here or there, I'll be able to. And we've pretty much recorded the whole thing live mean, the first day we spent going through different songs just trying to see you know, which ones might be the better ones to record. And because we were we, they told us we could record four songs for an EP. And so we pretty much spent the first day getting acquainted and getting getting the sound together, learning what they can do what they can't do. Sasha didn't want to play guitar at all, I wanted his dad to do it. So you know, first that we kind of did that the second day, we actually started, you know, going for takes and we picked the four songs, we might have done a couple of songs each day. And then I added I added some bass on it and electric guitar on 16 borders. And then Jim did some external or some other overdubs on keyboards. And, you know, did some rough mixes on Friday and sent that off, and everyone loved it. And I finished up the mixes soon after that. And that was pretty much it. And it'd be five days, you know, we were done with it. Wow. And, you know, I was really happy with it. They were really happy with it. And I think, I think I've done a lot of first albums in my career. So I have I have been a good bedside manner for it, I guess. And plus, they were very talented. It was just a joy to work with. And to the key to me was their harmonies because that's something that's priceless, because you don't get one last time there's a father son duo came out anywhere. I can't think of get your research team on it and see because I don't know. Yeah, I don't I don't really can't think of one. So it's like, well, this is kind of unique, you know, and a little bit harkens back to the Everly Brothers little bit, sometimes it's Simon and Garfunkel, you know, it's a little bit that through male voices, but um, I didn't want to imitate anything, I just wanted to figure out what was right for their songs and not really changed them too much, but just kind of raise the bar a little bit for them. And I you know, I think I think it came out beautiful. And, and also, I didn't want to add a lot of stuff to this one, you know, I'm hopefully this will be successful enough. And we can go back in and maybe we get a real drummer next time. I don't know, you know, we upped the ante a little bit. But it was it was really, you know, out of nowhere, you know, all of a sudden, you know, not having anything out on a major label for years. It was another one of those things like well, I guess if you stick around long enough, and you've done some good work in the past, maybe you know, the world takes care of you a little bit.

Jennifer Logue:

Yes, I believe that. I believe that Steve? That is wonderful. So I gotta ask what's next for you? I know you're going on tour with Eric Anderson.

Steve Addabbo:

Yeah, well, um you know, if I knew the answer that question I probably wouldn't be doing something else but even what's next? I never quite know what's next. Um, I'm still involved with the with Sony re mixing or mixing for the first time Bob Dylan outtakes we have a new one coming out in January at a time out of mind album on a one CD worth of unreleased stuff from that, you know, alternate takes that were really quite good. Daniel Lanois produced it originally and record it. So it's a really well, well recorded, well recorded album. I work I do a lot of work for the archives to were issuing some Leonard Cohen concerts from 1970 to more for copyright purposes. But after 50 years, they have to renew the copyrights. So they, they release them somewhere in Europe for two weeks. And then they they retain the copyrights and no one can use these performances for anything else without going through Sony. So it's just something record companies have to do, you know, for their business. So, you know, we've been doing that going through those, and it's a lot of work right there. Now, we just finished this 42 Song tribute record to Eric Anderson, which is all of Eric's songs performed by friends of his acquaintance of his people who love his music. And so it's 42 different productions of different songs of his that it's slated to come out. I think it's next week, maybe October 19th, I think was the official day. Oh, and it's a timing. Yeah, it's a triple CD, believe it or not, and plus, you know, being up online and stuff and, but we have some track by Genesee, and we have an unreleased track by Bob Dylan. We have one of your locals, Eric Brasilien. Did a track beautiful came out great. You know, I should have the list in front of me. But there's so many people like Dan Navarro, Lucy kaplansky, Cliff Eberhardt, a lot of a lot, Larry Campbell, and Teresa. So many, I can't even remember more. But there's some really, some people did some amazing stuff on this. So it's really and it's very eclectic record since draws on Lenny key that track I mean, all different, all different types of versions of the song. So that that's been going on for about a year and a half. And that's a big project. And I had to put it all together, you know, putting 42 songs from different producers in different mixes, and people did it on GarageBand people did it in big studios and trying to make it sad, it was it was a lot of work. So that's, that's that, you know, for myself, you know, the the person I'd get to last? Why net never seem to have enough time to book myself. You know, I'm hoping to do at least a few more. Maybe an EP, I don't know if I have it in me to do another whole album yet. But you know, I've got I've got a cup, we've got about four or five songs kicking around that, you know, I should just, you know, maybe I'll just get not busy for a while and just go okay, now's the time to do it, you know, and just kind of get in there and just show up and get in the creative zone and get these things done.

Jennifer Logue:

I mean, why not just take a few weeks for you know, the holiday or something?

Steve Addabbo:

Yeah. Well, seems easy doesn't it seems like a very simple concept.

Jennifer Logue:

But when you're busy getting

Steve Addabbo:

a concept, and then there's the studio, that one, you know, they keep telling me to pay electric bill. I mean, okay, ya know, so you got to keep it running. But I've got one track on the Eric Anderson track, which I can use as a starter and it came out beautiful. And I really did. So I'm very happy with that. And so yeah, I mean, that's pretty much it. What's going on right now? You know, it's more than I thought, because I tell you in the summer, it seemed like well, I mean, I was working on the ERIC records, a lot of stuff was going on, but it didn't seem you know, not until the end, the Sasha and Jim thing we did back in February. Oh, so once you're on a major label, these things take time, you know, and finally they, they get it together and they release it, you know, on their release schedule. So there's these big gaps, and we can do all this stuff. And then you just sit and wait, they're gonna put it out. They're gonna put it out. And so they did.

Jennifer Logue:

Anticipation. Yeah, very exciting. Well, Steve, it has been a pleasure and there's so much more we can talk about I feel like we're gonna have to do like a part two eventually. Because

Steve Addabbo:

if I live long enough, yeah, we'll do so much stuff. Yeah, it's like a long time. Now, a lot, a lot. A lot of stories in between all those that we mentioned, you know, and but, you know, I still get excited by doing this. It's still exciting to, to work on stuff. You know, I'm also helping my friend Mark Burr. ergo, who has this album ride, he writes songs kind of about the great, great West, you know, out there. And I've been playing with him live. And he's, and he's trying to get some songs and movies and stuff. So we're just, I'm helping him mix his record now too. And it's an interesting process. So there's so there's all these little projects that are scattered around, you know, so you keep busy, for sure. I keep busy, you know, so it's like me, I kind of demand I can book me so yeah, so yeah, I'm not going to complain about that. That's for sure.

Jennifer Logue:

You're in demand. See, that's a beautiful thing.

Steve Addabbo:

And we have to write some more songs because we wrote some cool pop songs. Oh, my gosh,

Jennifer Logue:

that is happening. Okay, good. So yeah, I have a few pieces. I'm like, Oh, these, you know, this hook would be good to write with Steve to finish fleshing it out. Yeah. And you always make my vocal sounds so good. Steve. Magnus, the warm like you bring out the warmth and vocals.

Steve Addabbo:

Yeah. Well, let's, you know, you want you want people to listen to him. You know, you don't want him to be edgy and nasty. Can you turn the volume down? You want people to turn the volume up?

Jennifer Logue:

Yeah, yeah. I think the vocal is the hardest. Of course, it requires. I mean,

Steve Addabbo:

it was the hardest to record. But I think it's the hardest. Certainly the hardest to perform. And I think it's the hardest to present. Because it's, it's, it's 90% of any record. Let's face it, you know, so it's not, it's all you know, sugar and candy is sort of, but you know, the vocal still has to really speak.

Jennifer Logue:

For more on Steve visit Steve adubato.com. And for more information on Shelter Island Sound, visit Shelter Island sound.com. And thank you so much for tuning in and growing in creativity with us. I'd love to know what you thought of today's episode. What you found most interesting what you found most helpful. You can reach out to me on social media at Jennifer Logue or leave a review for creative space on Apple podcasts so more people can discover it. I appreciate you so much for being here in the beginning stages of this. My name is Jennifer Logue. And thanks for listening to this episode of creative space, which I do export using mp3. So thank you, Steve, Suzanne and Dr. Brandenburg until next time. For more on Steve, visit Steve adubato.com. And for more information on Shelter Island Sound, visit Shelter Island sound.com. And thank you so much for tuning in and growing in creativity with us. I'd love to know what you thought of today's episode. What you found most interesting what you found most helpful. You can reach out to me on social media at Jennifer Logue or leave a review for creative space on Apple podcasts so more people can discover it. I appreciate you so much for being here in the beginning stages of this. My name is Jennifer Logue and thanks for listening to this episode of creative space, which I do export using mp3. So thank you Steve, Suzanne and Dr. Brandenburg. Until next time,

Intro
How did we meet?
The magic of “Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom)” for a 5 year old
Singing for the bus driver
The guitar player next door
Wanting to do music professionally
How music literally saved Steve’s life (The Vietnam Draft Lottery)
How do you define creativity?
The true artist sits down and gets it done
How do you know when a work is complete?
The beginnings of Arbuckle
Opening for Bruce Springsteen in Philly
A major music placement 45 years in the making
Steve and Suzanne’s role in the birth of the mp3
The ”Tom’s Diner” remix
Writing “Left of Center” for the iconic film, ‘Pretty in Pink’
Working on Jim & Sasha Allen’s debut EP
Mixing Bob Dylan
Working on a 42-song tribute record for Eric Andersen
What’s next for Steve